Sokon Matsumura

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura is one of two central characters in the history of karate. Linear karate apparently did not exist before Matsumura, but it became modern within the next generation to follow him. Matsumura represents the second generation before Gichin Funakoshi.


He was the commander of Shuri Castle barracks for fifty years from the 1820’s until 1879. It’s no wonder that his style became known as ‘Shuri-te.

It is said that when attacked, Matsumura avoided a thrown sai by diving to the ground as one does in Kanku Dai (this was the kata that was passed on to Matsumura from his teacher, Tode Sakugawa, and then passed down to us through Matsumura himself).


Matsumura made several trips to China and Japan to study their fighting styles, including a trip to the famous ‘Shaolin Temple,’ and supposedly brought back several kata including early forms of Naihanchi (Tekki), Seisan (Hangetsu), and Gojushiho-sho, amongst others.


Most accounts agree that he created the kata Chinto (Gankaku) using techniques that he learned from a shipwrecked Chinese martial artist in Tomari.


All branches of linear karate descend from Sokon ‘Bushi’ Matsumura, most of them through his student, Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu.